Students at Oberlin College are so angered by the “insensitive” and “culturally appropriative” offerings at their Dascomb Dining Hall that they are filling screeds of protest in the school newspaper and even demanded a meeting with Campus Dining Service officials and the college president.
At issue are foods such as General Tso’s chicken being served with steamed chicken instead of fried — which is not authentically Chinese, and simply “weird,” one student bellyached.
Others were up in arms over Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwiches served with coleslaw instead of pickled vegetables on ciabatta bread — rather than traditional French baguette.
“It was ridiculous,” Diep Nguyen, a freshman who is a Vietnam native, told The Oberlin Review, the school newspaper.
“How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”
Not only that, but the sushi rice was undercooked in a way that was, according to one Japanese student, “disrespectful” of her culture.
That student, Tomoyo Joshi, a junior from Japan, was very offended by this flagrant violation of her rice.
“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” Joshi told the Review.
“So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative,” she said.
Oberlin’s black student union joined in the food fray this month by staging a protest and petition against the grub being offered at Afrikan Heritage House, an on-campus dorm.
The dorm’s cafeteria wasn’t serving enough vegan and vegetarian options, and had failed to make fried chicken a permanent feature on the Sunday night menu, the school newspaper reported.
Campus dietitian Michele Gross told the Review this week that so far, the first meeting between college officials and dyspeptic students went well, and changes are being implemented to address all concerns.